Breaking up with my food

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Writer Diana Kohr holds a Hot Cheeto sadly.

Diana Xu

In middle school, I was one of those annoying kids who stood by the classroom door every day, ready to sprint to the lunch line for my bag of Hot Cheetos and fight anyone who stood in my way. Looking back at that girl now, I would have never thought that I would willingly push away the flamin’ hot snack, along with some of my other favorite foods from my diet.

As my dad comes from Sichuan, a province in China famous for its extremely spicy food, I grew up eating spicy… everything. I developed a love for it, and my high tolerance for spice allowed me to enjoy whatever food I wanted with no restrictions. I could munch away on a bag of Takis while many of my friends could only handle one or two chips before reaching for water. 

In high school, however, it became difficult to eat my favorite foods without upsetting my stomach. As someone passionate about food, this was worse than anything I could have ever imagined.

For months, I had gone to Cafe Lattea almost every day after school to study with my friends, where I drank a sugary drink on a daily basis, sometimes even ordering fries or popcorn chicken as well. Being at the café so often strengthened my connections with my existing friends and even helped me make some new ones. That café brought me many of my most cherished high school memories, and I know that my friends and I will continue the tradition even after we graduate. 

However, when I went home on those nights, my belly full of coffee and fried chicken, it was a different story. I would experience a lot of pain from the food; it wasn’t a pretty sight (no details needed, but you get the picture). Eventually, I stopped going to the café in order to cut out coffee and boba from my diet. At that point, I had also slowly stopped buying Hot Cheetos and eating anything that had caused me to feel ill, even though I often craved those foods. 

No longer able to handle spice as well as I could in the past, my dad stopped cooking a lot of his delicious spicy dishes as we were the ones in the family who enjoyed them. When I realized that dairy was also a trigger, I was completely caught off guard. I used to drink a cup of milk every morning without any trouble, but I now had to limit my intake of Fruity Pebbles and Rice Krispies to only on the weekends so I wouldn’t have any trouble at school. With the realization of how sensitive my stomach had become, I decided it was time to say goodbye to many of my favorite foods. 

Despite how miserable I was after cutting out these foods, I became motivated to adopt a healthier diet. I stopped eating just for the sake of eating and consciously scooped less rice and more vegetables onto my plate during meals. Baby steps. One day, I decided to step on the scale and, to my surprise, I had lost seven pounds in a couple of months without noticing. 

I didn’t cut out these foods with the intention to lose weight. I used to try dieting, but it had never worked because skipping meals made me slip up even more. I would convince myself to eat a snack to satisfy my hunger, but a whole bag of chips would be gone before I knew it. Instead of cutting out meals, cutting out these unhealthy foods made me feel better in my day-to-day life and more motivated to become healthier. 

While my diet has taken a turn, I still miss the foods I’ve given up as each reminds me of different times in my life. Although I am unable to eat many of the foods I crave without feeling terrible afterward, I am glad that through it all, I have become more invested in my overall health. If I never had those negative experiences, I don’t think I would have cared too much about my diet. I haven’t completely stopped drinking boba or eating Hot Cheetos. They are so easily accessible and so addicting. It’s hard to give it all up, but I’m grateful for the push I got to live healthier, and I’m glad that I’m progressing through my cravings slowly, one less boba drink and one less bag of Hot Cheetos at a time.